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Pretty used to being with Gwyneth

Regrets that her mother did not smoke

Frank in all directions

Jean Cocteau and Jean Marais

Simply cannot go back to them

Roll your eyes at Samuel Beckett

John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion

Metaphors with eyes

Life of Mary MacLane

Circle what it is you want

Not really talking about women, just Diane

Felicity's disguise

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« In Which Even Fourth Walls Must Come Down »




all images by Sol LeWitt

Four walls create a room, the illusion of an enclosed space, divided off from "the outside." It takes two more (a floor and ceiling) to stop nature from intruding. But even in a six-sided enclave the effects of being "inside" are primarily psychological. Tents act as protective caves, but they are purely symbolic when it comes to protecting you from bears. Houses are the best shelters we've got, but pretty useless against a nuclear bomb. It is notable that English uses the same word to refer to an external wall, and the internal sides of a room. This is by no means universal, and many languages distinguish between the two. 


There are walls on the stage and in the mind as well, and they are mostly conceptual. On stage and screen "the fourth wall" refers to the concept of breaking character and stopping the plot to address the audience. 


the narrator in Our Town

Groucho Marx

Bugs Bunny

(what's it all about) Alfie

Alvy Singer (Annie Hall)

Ferris Bueller

Wayne Campbell

Zack Morris

Clarissa (explains it all)

Deadpool breaks the comic book fourth wall (fourth panel?)


But there are other fourth walls in life. And they occur when people drop the pretenses required by society and subject you to real talk. Sometimes this is enlightening but it can also be super scary. It's like an outside context problem. You may not even have known the wall existed until it temporarily came down. 



This is the one where if you're lucky your parents attempt to make your childhood something of a stable affair. And part of that is pretending to know what is going on at all times even when you don't so that you can placate the fears of your terrified kids. Times when this wall is known to break down include: death, disasters, drunkenness (holidays). 



The internet fourth wall is a large, strange, and important concept in our modern social relationships. Most of us now have sprawling online identities that encompass sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr. Pages that are easily found through a rudimentary search and reveal a lot of personal information. Facebook is actually the perfect place for the numerous photos of your wedding/vacation/interactive online media related event that nobody other than you will want to see.

I didn't invent the human desire to archive and I don't claim to understand it, but I'll be damned if you can stop me from uploading ten thousand Jonas Brother macros. this is related to the dating 4th wall, wherein it is tacitly implied that everyone is facebooking each other but it must never, ever, be spoken of in public. Emily Gould requests that a fourth wall for the internet be built.



The horrible fact is that teachers are completely aware of the class's social hierarchy, of who is beautiful and who is repulsive, of how much power they have over you by virtue of being both an adult and a teacher. You know how sometimes you'd befriend a teacher who'd relate to you on an "equal" level, and then they'd drop some truth on you one day i.e. peel back the curtain between adulthood and high school and it would severely freak you the fuck out? It's the sort of thing you'll mull over repeatedly at dead-end jobs throughout your twenties; "THEY WERE TRYING TO WARN ME." It's a lot like how time travel works on LOST.



Strippers don't want to fuck you, hookers are humoring you. Sorry guys.


This is when you get too drunk and remind somebody that you swallowed their cum and then you're immediately plunged into an alternate universe where you and Penelope Cruz are both cats and Snake Plissken is your dad but also Atticus Finch and you get to act out Bob Dylan album covers and fall off buildings. 



Pink Floyd's The Wall

Sartre's "The Wall"

Wall Street

Rahul Dravid


The Berm


foo@foo:~$ wall <filename>

Lasiommata megera

Wall Drug

facebook wall

Wat's Dyke

Green Monster 


Molly Lambert is the managing editor of This Recording.

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Sol Le Witt is an American artist.

Walls (Circus) - Tom Petty: (mp3)

Wallflower - Bob Dylan: (mp3)

Knockin' Pictures Off Da Wall - Yungstar: (mp3)


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Reader Comments (4)

The Vanilla Sky reference brightened my day. I am leaving this comment instead of sending you a GChat.

April 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTyler

Reminded me of Moonlighting & Northern Exposure episodes as well.
When I was a pre-teen I had an aunt who asked me to paint her car any way I wished as long as it said, "Merry Christmas All Year Round." ... It was the middle of July at the time.

April 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSlappy

There's gotta be a driving-related fourth wall. Maybe it's when you are venting at another driver, in complete faith that your car is an impenetrable sound-absorbing privatespace, and they hear you and yell back?

Or it could be when someone crashes into you. That's stretching the metaphor a little, I know. But dammit, it's disconcerting.

April 7, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterjess

Fourth wall = fourth dimension?

April 8, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterkg

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